Ready, Set, Food! Raises a New Round As Recent Anti-Allergy Guidelines Build Its Case

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

Ready, Set, Food!

Ready, Set, Food! CEO and co-founder Daniel Zakowski says it's "the right time for allergy prevention."

His Encino-based startup closed a $3.5 million seed round this week on the heels of new guidance that parents introduce their children to allergenic foods when they're just four months old.

Ready, Set, Food! sells a line of powdered formulas blended with common allergens like nuts, milk and eggs.

In November, a group of medical organizations focused on allergy research published the new guidelines. That's a big shift from the previous advice; ten to 15 years ago, experts were recommending parents wait three years before feeding children small amounts of peanuts.

Zakowski knew the guidelines were coming. A month before they were released, his company inked a partnership with Wisconsin's Advocate Aurora Health to teach parents about exposing their children to allergy-prone foods at a young age.

Over the last year, the consumer brand has expanded into an educational resource for large healthcare providers, making "investors more interested in the category," Zakowski said.

The momentum helped the startup raise the additional funding, and bring in a new lead investor, healthcare provider Edward-Elmhurst Health.

"We were educating from day one, but we had to convince them that we were telling the truth based on the clinical trials out there," Zakowski said. "The guidelines just make it much, much easier."

One in 13 babies develops a food allergy each year, according to data from the nonprofit Food and Allergy Research Education.

Ready, Set, Food isn't the only company selling formula blended with allergy-causing foods, but, Zakowski said, "none other actually follow the dosing from the clinical trials."

The concept behind his brand helped his startup land an investment from Mark Cuban after pitching on Shark Tank in January of 2020. The corporate venture arm of food giant Danone also chipped in.

Both returned as investors for this week's seed round and Zakowski said he plans to close a Series A early next year, and consumers can expect a new line of snack foods by the end of this year.

The startup is currently rolling out an educational program with the Mayo Clinic and preparing another with Providence Health.

"We don't say everyone needs to use Ready, Set, Food," said Zakowski, "but every single parent needs to do early allergen interaction and needs to do it for a sustained period of time in order to prevent food allergies."

The goal is to encourage more pediatricians to talk about the recommendations with parents. They'll each get a coupon for Ready, Set, Food, too.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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How ‘Funny Water Company’ Liquid Death Made H2O Worth $700 Million

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

How ‘Funny Water Company’ Liquid Death Made H2O Worth $700 Million
Liquid Death Files Paperwork to Raise $15 Million

When Santa Monica-based Liquid Death launched with funding from neighboring venture capital firm Science Inc. in 2018, the Los Angeles startup world – and everyone else – had nothing but jokes. But with the company’s latest $700 million valuation, it appears the joke is on the rest of us.

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